Sharon May 14th, 2008
In an effort to get the cheerful message “You are doomed unless you put down those car keys” out to the larger public, it occurs to me that leaders in the Climate and Energy Peak fields simply can’t do it alone. It is true that Peak Oil and Climate Change are now mainstream concepts, but they simply haven’t made into the everyday consciousness that they need to. People keep telling me this will never happen, but clearly, since I can write it, it can . Any day now. For this, we need to bring it really mainstream – and here’s how it happens, with pair ups of our favorite environmentalists and pop culture figures.
JHK and JKR: Now that Voldemort is dead, novelists Kunslter and Rowling collaborate on “Harry Potter and the Greatest Misallocation of Resources in History.” A new threat is rising among the wizards of Britain – suburban development. The floo network turns out to be dependent on rapidly depleting wizard energies and brooms on increasingly scarce ash trees. Harry, Ron and Hagrid (Hermione appears briefly, barefoot, pregnant and offers to serve Harry and Ron wizard tea) fight a scorched earth battle with the dark wizard zoning boards for high density, walkable wizarding communities and the right to keep basilisks for eggs in British backyards.
James Hansen and Harlen Coben: Team up to write a thriller about a scientist who knows that the world is about to undergo a massive climate disaster, but who is repressed by evil government powers. John Glendale is a courageous scientist at NASA who is chased down by helicopters, CIA agents and a murderous vice president who wish to silence his message that the world must end all coal usage. Heroically, he succeeds in leaping from Air Force One moments before it explodes, clutching the parachute of his rival, a climate denying novelist with vague resemblances to Michael Crichton. Wrestling for control of the parachute in mid-air, Glendale sends the Crichton character plummeting to his doom, and after he explodes upon impact, floats gently to the ground to reveal the terrible truth. George Clooney has already bought the script rights and is anxious to play Glendale.
On the Political Front:
Gore-Bates ’2008: Barack Obama, reeling from a sequence of scandals is widely perceived as unable to win, and Hillary doesn’t have the delegates. So in a shocking, brokered convention, Al Gore is brought in at the last minute as the last democratic hope. But can he carry the all important permaculture and commune votes? Questions arise. So, in a surprise move, his old acquaintance Albert Bates is brought in to lend him credence on peak oil and climate change. The Bates-Gore team, playing its campaign theme (“You can Call me Al”) immediately announces plans for radical cuts in emissions, mandatory permaculture training in schools and, to no surprise at all, a pot legalization program. Gore promises to inhale regularly during his presidency, so he’ll start looking less stiff. Bates is notably quiet.
Meanwhile, over at the Republican Convention, there are rumblings as well, leading to:
McCain-Simmons ’2008 - Giddy from his new climate plan, McCain turns his resolute eyes to peak oil, telling campaign staffers “This isn’t bullshit. We’ve got to get serious about this.” The call goes out for a Vice-President who can defeat the Gore-Bates team on their own ground, and Matthew Simmons, overwhelmingly proved right on peak oil, is now the man to balance the ticket. Drawn together by common ground over their rich white-dudeness the two men become fast friends and begin crafting a strategy to wean America off its oil addiction. After a few Scotches (and no pot), McCain admits that oil wars are a net energy loss, and begins to craft a new national policy that he colloquially calls “Not flushing all that energy shit down the toilet.” Simmons and his lovely wife appear on a Barbara Walters special in which the vice-presidential nominee “Breaks his silence” over his feelings about all the years of CERA’s calling his theory “garbage” – the nation is visibly moved when Simmons weeps on television (and reports of his purchase of glycerine drops are generally dismissed). Daniel Yergin is publically flogged by an angry mob.
On the Corporate Front:
Crunchy Chicken and KFC: As the rising cost of fertilizer, energy for transport and corn for feed begin to reduce KFC’s profits, they make a desperate attempt to shift their market share. Widely placed in urban areas where access to healthy, sustainably produced food is poorest, KFC brings in the redoubtable Crunchy Chicken to turn them into an industry leader in access to organic, sustainable food. Crunchy rapidly has the parking lots transformed to raised bed gardens that produce vegetables for KFC menus, begins buying small lots of free range chickens produced by low income families in urban backyards, and creates her signature dish “The Crunchy Pair on with the Colonel’s special spicy Bok Choy” It is a howling success, and Crunch next makes a Run for the Border, taking over Taco Bell, and turning it into a low-cost vegan chain that rapidly runs McDonalds into bankruptcy.
In the meantime, the children are not left out.
Sesame Workshop and Community Solutions join forces to bring the message of _Plan C_ to children in 43 countries around the world. Pat Murphy joins Elmo in the hit song “C is for Curtailment” while Faith Morgan has a heart-to-heart talk with Cookie Monster about the oil to produce the ingredients for chocolate chip cookies. Meanwhile, Megan Quinn-Bachman rides in the grouchmobile Smart Jitney with predictable result and relieves Mr. Snuffalupagus of his fear that curtailment means that someone is going to take away his tail.
Teenagers must be included:
Matt Savinar and American Idol Kelly Clarkson: appear in a low budget summer movie entitled “Nitropak and Me” – in it a young survivalist anticipating the end of the world finds his world overturned by a beautiful young singer who just happens to end up half naked outside is bunker after being set upon by crazed hordes. Script by Savinar. Unfortunately, all the duets had to be redubbed, as it appears that Savinar’s prescription for disaster survival did not include singing lessons. Justin Timberlake’s overdub, however, meant that the film’s theme song “All I need is a 2 year supply of freeze dry, Ammo and You” reached the top of the pop charts.
Also on the Film Front:
Peter Jackson and Richard Heinberg: As it became more apparent to both presidential candidates that someone had to be our Frodo, and take away the ultimate power of fossil fuels that threatens to destroy us, all eyes turned to Heinberg. Even though he looks much more like an elf, Heinberg’s integrity convinced the new President and Vice President he could be trusted. So, with various world leaders hitting their little-known “crack of doom” buttons (these are blue), Heinberg makes a perilous journey, documented by Jackson, accompanied by various strange companions (Ken Deffeyes as “Balon” Colin Cambell as “Greendalf” and Julian Darley as the heroic hobbit sidekick “Drippen”) to drop our power to control fossil fuels into the now open “crack of doom,” somewhere in New Jersey.
On Television, the new version of “Survivor” takes over with a new theme – participants must create a fully sustainable society that will enable everyone to surivive. If they don’t, they will never be let off the island.
Van Jones, James Lovelock, Joseph Romm, Elizabeth Kolbert, Catherine Austin Fitts, Derrick Jensen and Vandana Shiva: The seven survivors undergo physical and mental challenges as they attempt to hammer out a set of universal worldwide policies to enable our species to survive. Despite some initial set-backs, as when Van Jones and Fitts tell Jensen to shut up about his parents already, and when Kolbert and Lovelock engage in a mud-wrestling death match over nuclear power, ratings rise as they begin to craft a mission statement. United by their desire to get away from one another, ultimately they create Utopia for humans and salmon alike.
Meanwhile, ABC, trying to compete with the monster success of the new Survivor now creates
“Green Eye for the (Environmentally) Straight Guy” - Environmentalist guys with style – Colin Beavan (aka NoImpactman), Bill McKibben, permaculturist David Holmgren and Ed Begley Junior dress in fine organic clothing and go around hunting down dorky energy hogs and restyling their lives. Holmgren (“the cool one”) turns fertilizer guzzling “so yesterday” lawns into gardens, while Colin (“the sexy young one”) helps the hapless “Straight-out hogs” into a new, appliance free low energy lifestyle. Begley (“the famous one”) gets the E-bikes passed out while McKibben (“the hot one”) explains the danger of planetary warming. Grateful wives, daughters and mothers cheer them on as their loser husbands become eco-cool.
Don’t Forget Daytime TV:
After her first appearance on Oprah, Carolyn Baker becomes a regular guest, replacing Dr. Phil, who Oprah never liked anyway. Led by Oprah’s warm questioning, Baker helps audiences recognizes the essentially bankrupt nature of their politics, culture and economy. Providing a warm shoulder to cry on, Oprah and Carolyn team up to overthrow the growth economy, bringing about a national boycott of American women of all publically traded companies. Victory gardens spring up in the shape of an “O” and Oprah pledges her personal fortune to create “post-growth recovery groups” and new steady-state economy credit unions, in a program headed by Baker.
Meanwhile Yours Truly and Martha Stewart begin the “Post-Carbon Home Show” where we convert tasteless houses full of ugly appliances into old fashioned farmhouses with cistern pumps and heirloom chickens. Despite a brief set-back when Martha has a mild stroke after seeing the inside of my home, and attempts to burn it to the ground as “the only way to deal with this disaster” the two of us create a new ethic of low cost, low energy peasant chic. Martha’s prison ties prove valuable as white collar prisoners specifically from Wall-Street Crimes are set paying their debt to society by building rainwater cachement on low income housing.
A new religion begins to pop up around the world, “Wendellism.” The basic principles including agrarianism, low technology life, local knowledge, awareness of other life and the acceptance that “manure happens.” Calling themselves “Mad Farmers” the members of this new faith quote St. Wendell of Kentucky, building temples in the shape of working barns on small polyculture farms. Because the new members of this faith are passionate, it grows rapidly, to the blind horror of Wendell Berry, who has no desire to be so revered, but to the vast improvement of the earth. Tom Cruise and Kirstie Alley publically abjure Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard and “all that mystical alien crap” and begin to farm by hand on what used to be the Hollywood Hills, and is now the celebrity city farm district.
What?!?! It could happen.